Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Raspberry Arduino 4wd Smart Car

   To give us something to program together with our Raspberry Pi 2 Kathy and I have ordered parts to build our own car.  We spent an hour before our weekly Bible study working towards learning Python together to this end.  We are going through a Udacity Python 2.7 video course together. 
 $16.89 Arduino Compatible DIY Motor Smart Robot Car Chassis Kit 4 WD-16.89 and Free Shipping|
Arduino Compatible DIY Motor Smart Robot Car Chassis Kit 4WD
All these parts so far were from Gearbest with excellent prices.

   Mounted on our car to control our motors will be a L298N motor drive module and an Arduino compatible Mega 2560 R3 board 16U2 for other accessories like an obstacle avoidance sensor or perhaps a camera.  Also to add we have our Raspberry Pi 2 to give a brain to our new smart car.
 L298N motor controller        Arduino Mega 2560 R3

Our plastic frame, motors and wheels for our car are ready for assembly.

   My Brother Craig, who by the way, just got a Raspberry Pi 2 today in the mail today has been busy getting his Pi set up to his preferences.  He is also going to run Linux Ubuntu Pi MATE.

   Now the learning to program together with my Wife, Brother and another Friend and his father continues.  I look forward to this hobby being something we can all do together as we enjoy some fine association with each other.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pi a la Cart

Raspberry Pi 2 on its own new plastic
 Sterilite 3 drawer cart from Walmart for $10

The plan is to keep all parts in one location this way.  The keyboard and mouse are on the top pulled out drawer.  It all has a 10' umbilical cord going to the TV, Power, and the Lan.  The whole thing can be wheeled to our chairs when using else be stored away.  The small little Pi 2 is a mobile device but nothing like we have become accustomed to :/
Raspberry Pi 2 Booting up a la dessert cart

It is also sporting a cool desktop I found with Google at: wordpress
Made the text match the color we love it.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

NEW!! Apple Pi with Raspberry Pi filling

NEW!! McDonald's Apple Pie with Raspberry filling.
That just looks to tasty to pass up.
Raspberry Pi eats Apple.
Around here Apple is a consumption device.

   We have it working except for the sound.  Right now the Raspberry pi is set up on a chair in front of the TV, but we are scheming a mobile Raspberry cart to set in front when we are using it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Our new baby in the house gave us the Raspberry

Our baby waiting for its swaddling cloth to be removed
   My Wife and I decided we wanted a winter project we could do together. She was not able to get into learning Esperanto with me.  As for loading the obligatory Raspberry NOOB OS files on its microSD memory I found my Android Lenovo tablet had the better Zip extraction App but I could not get it to blank format the mSD without it claiming it and moving right in, so I copied the NOOB files to the mSD using my Chromebook.  We got the Raspberry Pi inthe mail today but my wife not awake enough to open it up yet so we can boot it up... oh the pain,  so I decided to blog about it.  And then I have an afternoon appointment ,so here it will sit until we can open it together.......

Monday, November 23, 2015

Google Fi phone service and Nexus 5X Phone

   My 2012 Moto G kept shutting down on me and my SquareTrade insurance opted to just pay out on the phone.

   So since I needed to replace it, I chose a to get a Nexus 5X which has been very a snappy phone for me.  I really like the fingerprint scanner that makes logging into the phone very quick as well as the larger screen.

   I decided also to try the Google Fi Network which uses the T-Mobile, Sprint and also WiFi networks to provide phone service. So far the service has been great.

   Since I use very little data I am using the $20 monthly service plan with with an allowance of $10 for data.  I will use very little data so my bill will end up being barely above $20 a month.

   The customer service has been awesome!  The only other company that I have such good service is Netflix.  I got friendly help with my questions about the service by chat within a minute a couple of times.  The representatives were very knowledgeable and spoke clearly.

   Although I haven't even had the service for quite a month yet, I am liking both the phone and service quite a lot so far.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A new keyboard

   I have been using a Logitech K120 keyboard for years and its keys are wearing out causing me a lot of editing.  My wife also is wishing me to get a quieter KB

Perixx PX-5200 with blue backlighting on.

   I found a super good deal on a "damaged box"(looked ok to me) Perixx PX-5200 keyboard with mechanical MX brown quiet non-clicky switches. It is sturdy built with a keypad, 8 macro keys, a replaceable USB cord, and non-dimming blue backlit mechanical KB Brown key switches.

Mechanical Switches
 This is my first real KB with actual mechanical switches instead of rubber dome switches.  I picked a KB with MX Brown switches which is a quieter switch without the click so my wife does have to hear all my typing.

Key Dampeners
   I am using .2mm red MX rubber O-ring switch dampeners to give some sound reduction, but yet with a minimal change in key travel.

Elite firm gray foam keypads
   I am also going to try some Elite firm gray foam key pads.  Or I could try to not bottom out the keys so much in the first place. :)  


   I also picked up a key top puller to make installing the key dampeners easier.
A keytop puller
 My experience with the KB so far 
   I am liking the feel of the key switches and weight of the KB, the blue blacklighting is very bright. I added the red rubber O rings and they do quieten the keys some.

   I installed the firm grey pads on the keys over the red O rings and they only make the keys only a small bit quieter.  All except for the space bar it still rattles even with both the red and grey foam pads installed. I tried adding two layers of foam pads but that hindered its operation.
  My Wife Kathy says this KB is quieter than my old Logitech KB though, so as long as she is happy, I am happy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Goodbye Windows and Hello Chromebook

   My windows computer quit on me so now I get to replace it with something much faster.  Kathy has been spoiled with an Acer C720 11" Chromebook for over a year now and I love using it too, especially now that my PC is toast.  It is much faster than any PC we have ever had.  I am very used to using Chrome as an OS along with windows and like it. It is so much faster on its own laptop without waiting for Windows behind the scenes.  I have not missed Window and its lagging, crashing and rebooting issues(slow at that) and many even slower security updates one bit.  When a Chrome does need to reboot for an update it is done in literally seconds.

   We also use a Chromecast on our TV to stream Chrome and phone contents to a larger screen such as JW broadcast, articles,  Youtube and Netflix.
Acer Chromebook 13¨ CB5-311-T9B0 (13.3-inch Full HD, Nvidia Tegra K1, 2GB
   So I ordered an Acer Chromebook 13¨ CB5-311-T9B0 (13.3-inch Full HD, Nvidia Tegra K1, 2GB and look forward to receiving it. Besides faster and easier they are also so much more cost effective than a Windows PC.  

   I bought an extra power supply for a second charge location that will fit both our Chromebooks.  I also bought a protective blue hard shell cover for it.   

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Upgrade rather than throw away your next phone

Upgrade rather than throw away your next phone

Bulk boxes full of outdated and broken phones are prematurely recycled

  So many phones end up in the landfill.  I worked at a donation resale business for a while.  I LITERALLY saw thousands of phones in pallet sized bulk box 40” × 48” x 36” inch containers that were full of old phones and broken  phones donated for recycling for their electronic metals.  I was very surprised to see the volume of this.  Their sin was to be last years phones, to have irreplaceable dead batteries, a cracked screen, an older CPU, to be a non-smart phone. To be non-upgradable and non-repairable.

  If the components of these phones were replaceable they would still have a chance for life.  A dead battery could be replaced, even a broken screen or a slowing CPU would not be a hinderance to giving its owner a few years more service.  Is there a reason that these phones could not be designed from the start to be repairable and upgradeable?  They were built to make a profit and not to last for more than a couple years.
  Electronic parts are not the only thing that needs to be designed to be recyclable. There is also entirely too much plastic waste in the world.  Products are not designed to be taken apart to be recycled into their individual parts, both electronic and plastic.   I am saddened when I see of all the plastic waste that ends up in the ocean.  We do recycle many plastics, but not all plastics are recyclable.  Why not only use plastics that are recyclable?  Why not reuse this plastic to remake things that have honestly worn out or are broken.  A lot of the plastic to build our phones is currently not recycled plastic.  But that can change. Why not use all that waste plastic to make other things. To make the shell's of our phones and devices. To make recycled filament material for 3D printers.
 Project Ara parts-578-80.jpg
The Ara and the sum of its replaceable and reusable parts
An Ara phone user making a call               

  You may have heard of Project Ara in the news.  Ara is a phone project being promoted and designed by Google.  It is another way to recycle, one that reduces waste, both electronic and plastic.  A way to start with a basic phone and upgrade and repair it.  This would allow a phone to have many more years of usage.  A phone that can be a basic phone in third world countries as Google’s is already planning or a high end phone for the enthusiasts.  

  The premise is simple.  Make the phone modular.  And as easy to replace a needed module as a piece of Legos Blocks.  So that even the average user can have another way to do their part to help reduce all that waste that is constantly being made, by repairing or upgrading their own phone.  But you're older but still usable module part does not have to be recycled yet.  Its life does not have to be over.  They still have value and can even be sold to a new user that does not need, want, or perhaps can not afford this years modules.  Sure it may be the latest and greatest but it still has life in it and can be used.  Your older phone module may be just what someone else is looking for.
  But to be a success an idea has to get out off the blueprint stage and start to be produced, and this is happening.  CPU makers are building chips and PC boards for this new phone.  Its plastic parts can already be 3D printed and even customized.  Specialized sound modules are being created.  Forums for the developers at XDA are there to help plan and create these modules.  And a community of interested fans at the Project Ara Forum are there to help support its success and to help new users learn about Ara.  Google is hosting a Developer Conference on January 14, 2015 to help developers further to create new modules for the Ara phone.

  The Ara Project is moving along to help reduce waste, Make phones repairable and upgradeable. To provide basic phones to both third world countries as well as a phone for the enthusiast or those with special needs. The modular, upgradable, repairable and recyclable phone is finally being created.

Do think Ara will help alleviate the waist problem? Will you be willing to buy used parts for repair or upgrade?

  Project Ara Forum member.